Oh, in how many ways can I and have I expressed my love affair with the city of Chicago.
Every time I am there it just grabs me like no other place can.
It’s a cliche but the architecture is world class, visually stunning and yet so close and personal.
The streets are always bustling and clean.
You can walk just about anywhere you need to go (if you are downtown) in fifteen minutes or less.
Maybe it’s the need to have a flashback and put on a flak jacket just to go past a certain point on the west side or the parking lot they call the Dan Ryan Expressway.
The right of passage bestowed on every governor, by being granted the highest office in the state and a then a guaranteed indictment and prison sentence to follow. Makes you warm and fuzzy just thinking about it.
The lakefront gives the impression of being on the edge of the world while providing what has to be some of the most prolific public space on the planet.
Did I mention the rush you also get when drag racing from stoplight to stoplight while trying to read a Google map?
Where else in the world can you get all of that but in the city of big shoulders, Chicago?
I made what is now one of my annual trips into the city this past week help participate in the NAR REach Program.
(Yes, I know the video features the Class of 2016)
Specifically, I was there to do a bit of Startup speed dating with the Class of 2017.
My role as a mentor is to meet, greet, talk with, and generally get pitched to by each startup company.
During and after which we discuss and bounce back ideas and points of view about any and all things related to each company.
NAR sets up at least four of these days. Two in Chicago and two in Washington DC. Each program day has at least six mentors for each session.
This gives the startups a tremendous amount of exposure to all types of people and disciplines within the real estate industry.
Now, they have a chance to do a bit of homework on each mentor so they at least have an idea who they are going to sit in front of.
My obvious role is that of someone from the commercial side. You might be surprised no matter what the company the relatable and informative conversations to be had when the words commercial real estate are spoken.
I found myself say the words “what if,” all day long.
I need to give a HUGE (word of the year) shout out to Mark Birschbach, Dave Garland and Tyler Thompson at Second Century Ventures. This thing looks and feels like it’s on autopilot. NOW, we all know most things that look that way take months of preparation and coordination.
Without a doubt the attention to detail was evident and when all I had to do was sit, discuss, opine and ask for an occasional water I knew it was all handled and then some.
The time flew by and how could I not recognize:
Adwerx: Chris Leithe.
House Canary: Martin Morzynshi and Renee Teely.
Pearl Certification: Cynthia Adams and Robin LeBaron.
Immoviewer: Steve Bintz.
Notarize: Jennifer Parker.
Truststamp: Casey Loyd and David Greenwald.
Occly: Nimish Adhvaryu and Marc Harris.
Last and certainly not least Relola: Heather Sittig Jackson.
Along with the mentor, demo days are meetings at NAR Mid-Year and NAR Annual Events where the companies get to showcase their products to literally millions of potential customers.
For a startup to have access like that along with the support of NAR and it’s Global Network is nothing short of spectacular.
I have been involved with NAR for many years.
I know how the technology side of real estate and commercial real estate has evolved and it has been fascinating to watch.
NAR and NAR REach was and still is one of the originals leading the way and then some.
Take a look at these companies and the classes before and see how NAR is doing it.
There may be more than just a few things we can all learn.
Hey, Mark, Tyler, and Dave, see you guys at The NAR Annual Conference & Expo in Chicago this year. We need to hang some more. Dare I say “Tee It High and Let It Fly.”
The City Beautiful and NAR REach.
+1 Hey, Wonder Woman.
+1+1 Shout out to the Intercontinental Chicago.